What is NSA and why is it so famous?
The secret has been out of the bag for a while now, all of us are under surveillance and it is pretty much impossible to escape that. Of course, it is thanks to Edward Snowden who let the world know about NSA, the online surveillance and that each of your actions is being collected as data whether you want it or not.
Even though the topic of Edward Snowden is still heavily discussed today, not many of us are really aware of what NSA is and whether any of their actions have changed since the big whistle-blower explosion. What is the NSA up to today?
What is NSA?
A little history lesson about the NSA.
NSA stand for National Security Agency. It is an official cryptologic organization that was formed in November of 1952. The main aim of NSA is to protect national communications systems integrity and collect information about foreign countries secret communications. The NSA works closely with CSS, also known as Central Security Service. People of all fields work at the NSA, including engineers, computer scientists, physicists, researchers and so on. It has been established that NSA is the largest employer of mathematicians in the US and even worldwide!
Why so many mathematicians? They are tasked with designing cryptographic systems and looking for weak spots in fellow countries systems. The budget of NSA is unknown, but many people believe that their resources are endless. In recent years, it has become obvious that NSA is tasked not only with protecting the US government’s communication and information systems but also with global monitoring and collection of data for foreign intelligence. Often for counterintelligence reasons. What is more, it is believed that measures used to collect data include burglary, wiretapping, even breaking and entering.
NSA global surveillance scandal. What happened?
If there were people that had never heard of NSA, then the year 2013 changed all that. In June 2013, an NSA contractor known as Edward Snowden revealed to the public the vast amount of spying being done by the NSA. Be leaking thousands of internal documents, Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA follows and listens in to telephone and internet communications of more than billion people online.
It has been claimed that the information is being gathered to prevent terrorist attacks, however, the documents show that the data is also being collected for foreign politics, economical and commercial secrets. Some people are being intercepted on their phones daily. The news became a worldwide scandal because it was revealed that the NSA spies heavily on the European Union, the United Nations and many governments across the world.
Furthermore, with so many people being tracked daily, the NSA is able to know people’s locations and even such personal things as relationships. A single most shocking piece of news that the scandal revealed is that NSA has access to Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple and even AOL. The amount of information being collected by NSA is extremely vast. Worst part of it all? It weakens internet privacy and nowadays no one surfing the web can feel 100% secure.
What has the NSA been up to lately?
The latest news on the doings of NSA.
It has recently came into the public eye that the scale of NSA work is affecting all of the globe because it was unveiled that the US government paid UK spy agency under the name GCHQ 100 million pounds over the course of last three years in order to gain access to Britain’s intelligence gathering programmes.
The payments have been top secret and the truth has just been revealed this year due to some new documents being leaked that show that the British spy agency has to return the investment by delivering information to the US. The new information is striking people into many people’s hearts because it shows that the US holds more and more power over the world.
Many believe that Britain is too dependent on the NSA and does not hold as much power over their own agencies. It seems that since the big truth reveal, the NSA has grown in numbers rather than become smaller. It is growing bigger and stronger every day.
What does the existence of NSA mean for cyber security?
The information provided is quite bleak, but there is some great news as well. On 2nd of June, 2015 the US senate passed the USA Freedom Act. The new law requires the ending of bulk collection of information through calling record.
Now the NSA can only collect information only of it is deemed to be a case where there is reasonable suspicion of threat or terrorism to the United States. What is more, the NSA needs to oblige to specific selection terms and if in court, it needs to answer any possible questions that arise. It has been the first time in over 30 years span that the US government has inflicted any changes on the National Security Agency powers.
But what does the NSA mean for cyber security? It means that we live in times where there is basically no such thing as safety security and privacy. It may as well be said that what the NSA does is for safety reasons, but does anyone question if it is legal or how successful? Imagine that every email you have ever sent out, every word, every photo is collected by someone and stored somewhere and can be viewed by any random person. Your deepest secrets and most embarrassing photos had been viewed and most likely there is a big file with your profile.
What is more, what if information like your sexual orientation or preferences are one day used against you? Not only that is illegal, it is also immoral and unethical. Of course one could argue that there are tools to protect yourself while being online, but NSA keeps creating new tools that make encryption weaker which in return makes it more difficult to stay safe online.
NSA has such power that it can plant malware into any computer device it wishes to. So if you want to stop living in a world without privacy, then our advice is that you stop using social media, abandon the cloud and encrypt your email! Ha, or just use a VPN...:)